Needham was educated at Manchester Grammar School and the University of Manchester. He was to maintain a link with the university throughout his life, becoming a governor in 1908, a chairman of the council from 1936 to 1941. He became a partner in the family company, John Needham and Sons of Manchester, iron and steel merchants.
He stood as Liberal candidate for the constituency of Manchester South West at the January 1910 general election, but was defeated by the Conservative, Arthur Colefax. The position was reversed at the ensuing election in December, when Needham unseated Colefax to become a member of parliament. He held the seat until 1918.
After leaving parliament, Needham was knighted in 1919, and expanded his business interests. He became chairman of the Manchester and Liverpool District Banking Company in 1922. He remained chairman of the company (renamed the District Bank) until 1936. He was chairman of the National Boiler and General Insurance Company and was also a director of the London and North Eastern Railway, the Manchester Ship Canal and the Alliance Assurance company. Outside of business, he was chairman of Lancashire County Cricket Club from 1941 to 1943.
- Obituary, The Times, 1 May 1944, p.4
- Progress of the General Election, The Times, 5 December 1910, p.9
- Hansard 1803–2005: contributions in Parliament by Christopher Needham
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|Member of Parliament for Manchester South West
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